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Next week I am going to write a little more about the rich young ruler and God’s economy, but I wanted to take a moment out to tip my hat to the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers.  You may have seen this week that lots of Roy Rogers memorabilia was auctioned off at Christie’s because the museum that had been in the family’s hands in Branson, Missouri, closed last year.  You may not be aware who Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, were, both as celebrities and as people.

I found out because when my son was about 2 years old, my husband videotaped a documentary about Roy Rogers for him, thinking he’d like seeing Trigger.  My son fell in love with the tape, but what drew him was Roy himself.  All I could think of was, kids know who loves them, and my son was fascinated with this man as were boys and girls decades before.

Roy Rogers made musical cowboy movies with his exceptional trained horse, Trigger, and the singing group, the Sons of the Pioneers, during the mid-20th century.  He stood for fair and honest values and the kids loved him.  He made countless appearances everywhere for his young fans, including Madison Square Garden.  Dale Evans was cast in his movies and they fell in love and married, continuing to work together in movies, later in TV, and in public appearances.

The story of Roy’s own children was marked with heartache.  He and his first wife, Arlene, adopted two girls.  Then Arlene died within days of giving birth to his son, Roy Jr.   Later, when Roy married Dale Evans, they had one child, a girl with Down syndrome who only lived a year.  Dale wrote the famous book, Angel Unaware, about her life.  They adopted many more children, but two of them were also killed in accidents.

Their strength came from their deep faith in God.  Roy was more quiet about his faith, but it was he who encouraged Dale’s faith in the beginning, and she was more outspoken.  Behind the pleasant scenes of their public life, they had to put real trust in the God of the Bible to keep going.  They truly believed in the values they were imparting to their young audience, teaching kids right from wrong, to brush their teeth and say their prayers.

I think there was a little concern before the auction whether that many people would still remember and care.  Would the collection be forgotten as it became split up?  No one should have worried.  Everything sold, and well above the prices estimated before the auction.  When a museum bought a piece, which meant that the item would be publicly displayed once again, the audience cheered.  At the end of the auction, the crowd broke out in the song “Happy Trails to You,” the Roy Rogers theme song.

Of great interest to all concerned was the fate of Trigger, who had been stuffed and mounted after his death.  The man who bought Trigger owns a TV station.  He says that Trigger will be on public display at the station; moreover, he plans to show Roy Rogers movies on his station with new introductions from Roy’s son so that a new generation will be exposed to these values.

At that news, a smile crept on my face.  I was imagining the Lord having a talk with Roy and Dale in heaven.  “This generation of children is not hearing the kind of messages with good values.  Through the wonder of video, you can come back and tell kids again.  Now, this isn’t without cost.  Your prized possessions from your museum will be sent to the four winds.  They will leave your family’s hands.  But you can tell thousands and thousands of children that My values are strong and solid and the ones they can really trust.”

Without a moment’s concern, God’s two choice servants who were faithful in the good and bad times during their long years on earth answer, “Do it, Lord, at any cost.”    And they saddle up their horses once again.

Were God’s purposes in the auction?  I’d like to think so.  But take a moment this weekend to dwell not on the memorabilia of celebrity but on the memorable lives of these two saints.

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Forth of July

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Today’s blog is lighter than normal, in keeping with the celebratory weekend and the fact that many of us may not be revving up for work but for our vacation week.  Michelle’s had a busy weekend with friends and some fireworks that were so close they rained down ashes on her and her family.  I caught up with her this morning after the famous cup of coffee that her husband prepares.  I’ve got to find out what’s in that coffee some day.  Does it taste better if he makes it?  Seriously, I know it’s the love with which he brings it to her that makes her day.

My Third, and Fourth, and Fifth, were more quiet.  I started with some cleanup of my very needy backyard.  Ryan, one of the young men from church, is volunteering to take on the dirty work.  In exchange, he gets to throw a pool party here when the yard is presentable.  On Sunday, I substituted as the organist at a Baptist church in a village called Georgiaville.  I didn’t know there was a “Georgia” in my New England state, but we have villages called Phoenix, Arctic, and Wyoming, too.  Don’t ask me why.  Anyway, the Georgiaville folks had never met me before, and we had a wonderful time getting acquainted in the Lord.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like an exciting, patriotic weekend with parades, potato salad, etc.  But in church the pastor and others spoke about America being the greatest nation in the world, and we thanked God for her in prayer and in song.  I am impressed that at this time when I’m overwhelmed with my property, Ryan is willing to come help me out.  Giving one’s neighbor a hand is an American idea that is alive and well.

Late yesterday evening my daughter found the movie “Oklahoma!” on TV and we sat and watched.  I saw something different, something really current in the old film.  At the end of the movie Curly marries Laurie and changes careers from a cowboy to a farmer.  Curly’s moving on and adapting because he sees Oklahoma going up for statehood and his way of life yielding to farming.  I did have to fight an urge to shout at the TV, “No, Curly, tearing up the prairie will lead to the American dustbowl!”  Nonetheless, it has been so much of American culture to change careers and go forward, and I’m right now in the cross hairs of it.  My “cowboy” past is free lancing music, but to make a living in today’s world, I’m learning to write, blog, sell, and soon, moderate a website.  Now, as I think about it, this is how America always has been.  The aristocrat learned to plow the colonies’ lands.  The homebody became the pioneer trekking across the frontier.  Thirteen colonies with no “soldier class” in their social strata cobbled together an army to win their freedom.

We accept unquestionably that God had His hand on American adaptability, courage, endurance, ingenuity.  Does God have His hand on my life to do greater things with me after I scramble past the roadblocks?  We’ll have to wait and see.

So I have had a holiday that a parade or some fireworks (much as I love them) could not have given me.  I hope you’re feeling American today.  It’s our Christian outlook to yield and adapt to God’s ways.  It’s our American culture to change our ideas, or the way we earn our living, and try something new.  I hope you’re feeling it as we go on to July 6.

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